Gracing the front pages of news papers, making headlines on ABC Ballin' For Peace is an organization that plans to expand its reach into every "Urban Community" in the US with its celebrity endorsed basketball games/outreach program to build better relations between the community and law enforcement.
1. Give a background and history on "Ballin For Peace" the mixtape and how it got into the hands of G-Unit records ultimately to have them officially host the mixtape.
In 2007 Ballin’ for Peace was created by Kenn Hicks (AKA Godfather of Streetball) and his sons Kenyatta & Ryan Hicks. Kenn was born in New York and grew up playing basketball at the outdoor courts and would watch the games at Rucker Park. In 1982 Kenn moved to California and noticed outdoor courts were empty and people were only playing inside the gyms. Kenn decided to bring his New York style of play to the west coast and started the National Outdoor Basketball Showdown, Labor Day Weekend at Venice Beach, which ran for over 20 years. NBA Players such as Los Angeles Lakers Champion Kobe Bryant played in the tournament and NBA stars such as Paul Pierce, Derek Fisher, Elton Brand, and Corey Maggette came out to support the festivities. In 2001 the WNBA Champions Los Angeles Sparks had their team celebration at Venice during the event.
In 2007 Mayor Villaraigosa requested programs to help stop gang violence and crime in the “Hot Spots” (high crime areas) of southern California. Kenn Hicks and his sons took a pro active approach by starting “Ballin’ for Peace” which was modeled after the Venice Beach Outdoor Basketball Showdown.
The goal was to bridge the gap between law enforcement and the community while bringing unity and peace to high gang activity playgrounds to make a safe environment for the youth Basketball exhibitions were held with athletes from the neighborhood, peace officers, celebrities, and influential members of the community throughout the summer. The games would draw large crowds and spectators were able to take advantage of the services that were being offered. During the free events booths were set up for colleges to sign students up for school, employment opportunities and health care services were provided on site, free back packs with school supplies were handed out, and free hair cuts and braids were offered before the school year started.
Ballin’ for Peace would collaborate with the local radio stations and have live performances during halftime of the games. During each event Kenn would invite all players and athletes to compete in the “To The Top” Contest to see who can go to the top of the backboard and join his high school classmate, the legend Earl “The Goat” Manigult as the highest jumper in the world!
Kenn Hicks son, Ryan was a double letterman student athlete (basketball & soccer) at Kansas Wesleyan University and earned the student of the year back to back in 2004-2005. In the summer of 2004 Ryan played in the “Say No Classic” on UCLA’s team with Jordan Farmar, Aaron Afflalo & Lorenzo Matta which went on to play in the NCAA Final 4.
Ryan graduated at the top if his class with a degree in Communications and had a solid background of journalism, public relations. video/audio pre and post-production. Ryan had everything needed to help take the program to a national level.
In the beginning stages of the tour, Ryan wanted to implement music pertaining to the Ballin’ for Peace movement. Ryan put together video highlights from each event with original music content then sent out an email blast through websites and all social media.
In August 2007 DJ Crash D collaborated with west coast legend Julio G (Westside Radio) and hosted the Ballin’ 4 Peace InDaStreets Mixtape Volume 1, Presented by G-Unit. The Mixtape was filled with hits from 50 Cent (“I Get Money”), Tony Yayo, Young Buck, & Spider Loc, which brought national attention. The mixtape set the platform for other rappers and celebrities to get involved with the Ballin’ for Peace movement.
October 2007, Ryan was introduced to Redman during a “Red Gone Wild” show at the House of Blues in Hollywood. Redman stayed an extra week in California with Gilla House members Ready Roc, Mr. Cream & Dj Dice, to shoot an episode of CSI in Northridge California. Ryan went to Granada Hills High School & California State University of Northridge for two years so he knew the area very well. Ryan spent the week helping the crew take care of business (meetings/interviews/press) and showing them the Hollywood night scene.
Ryan had a special bond with each of the Gilla House members. When Redman & Method Man go on tour in California and Las Vegas, the crew would take Ryan under their wing and have him around other celebrities such as Snoop Dogg, Jill Scott, and radio host Big Boy from Real 923LA. Ryan would network backstage with other artist, while getting Ballin’ for Peace drops and positive messages for the youth.
April 2009, Ryan went to meet Alonzo Robinson (ASCAAP)through a mutual friend at a birthday party for Sista Asia. During the gathering Ryan ended up forming a dynamic connection with Sista Asia. The two immediately started promoting the Ballin’ for Peace movement, interviewing on radio stations and Red Carpet events BET weekend. Sista Asia introduced Ballin’ for Peace to Carla Garcia who opened the doors to festivals such as Paid Dues & Rock The Bells.
Ballin’ for Peace had booths set up and would get drops and interviews backstage from the artist who performed. Ryan, Sista Asia & Frank Vasquez (Snoop Dogg’s Engineer) came together to create the Ballin’ for Peace Mixtape Volume 2 featuring the Wu-Tang Clan, Redman, Method Man, Ready Roc,
Mr. Cream, Treach, DJ Drama, Problem, Devin the Dude, DJ Felli Fel, KRS ONE, Eastwood, Buckshot, Rah Digga, Havoc, DJ Vlad, Glasses Malone, Mistah Fab, Dro from Watts, Ras Kass, West Coast Kam, Bone Thugs N’ Harmony, & many more!
2. The Ballin For Peace movement has been essential in community relations and unity among the youth in urban communities. What has been your overall motivation for this organization and how has this project developed and grown over the years?
The overall motivation for the Ballin’ for Peace movement is to give hope, and provide multiple productive outlets through ground breaking positive actions. Ballin’ for Peace has been a great success nation wide over the past 10 years, with events ranging from California to Philadelphia. In 2007 Ballin’ for Peace helped decrease gang related homicides by 26% in Los Angeles. The organization has received favorable reviews from news stations (CNN, ABC, and NBC), national magazines (SLAM & Sports Illustrated), local newspapers, politicians, and the Los Angeles Police Department. In 2009, members of the Ballin’ for Peace Organization received a Certificate of appreciation from Mayor Villaraigosa at Staples Center during a Los Angeles Clippers Game, for their exemplary work.
In 2015, members of the Ballin’ for Peace organization received a “Hero Among Us” award and Citation from the City Council of Philadelphia during a Philadelphia 76ers home game, Martin Luther King Jr. Weekend. In 2016 Philadelphia Mayor Jim Kenney came to the Nicetown Give Back Festival and supported the Ballin’ for Peace movement.
In August 2017 Ballin’ for Peace hosted national events for the “To The Top” Contest (Staples Center, Philadelphia & Venice Beach). Next upcoming event will be All-Star Weekend in Los Angeles kicking off February 16, 2018 at Dave & Busters in Hollywood
3. What type of adversity have you dealt with building this organization and how did you overcome those challenges?
During the years of building the Ballin’ for Peace brand there has been different types of adversities and challenges to overcome along the way. To avoid most problems before they arrive, vigorous hours of pre planning and preparation would take place. Even though unforeseen circumstances may arise, keeping a positive mindset and being resourceful helps get through the bumps in the road. Things run a lot smoother when you have a strong team and support system. Blessed to have friends, family & supporters behind the scenes helping elevate the movement. (i.e Linda, Nicole, Kenn & Kenyatta Hicks, Sharon Batts, Sista Asia, Brian “Doc” Bull, Sahara Peterson, Quenton Bowman, Robin Kennedy Aka “Sik Wit It”, Larry Williams Aka “Bone Collector”, Kevin King, Mike Hofeld, Greg Perlman, Dante Cain, Hymie Glass, Janaki Bowerman, Courtnee Bell, Marquis Moody, Richard Pezzuolo, Paul Green, David Wilson, Norris Dorsey, Devon Almendarez, Speedy Caldwell, Provat Gupta, Dj Carisma etc.)
4. Being featured on multiple news platforms, and various celebrity endorsements later; how does the progress you've seen match your expectations? Are you further than you imagined or not exactly where you want to be?
Through the ten years of ups and downs, hard work and dedication, the Ballin’ for Peace origination has surpassed expectations and is headed in the right direction for more major breakthroughs across the united states. The movement has been blessed to raise awareness through major media platforms (T.V, Radio, Music, Magazines, Newspaper,Internet, Billboards etc.). The next step for the movement would be a movie/documentary to be seen in theaters across the nation with an amazing “Ballin’ for Peace West 2 East" soundtrack.
5. The movement you've created has become groundbreaking in the sense that other organizations have spawned from BFP. Did you imagine people emulating your movement?
The Ballin’ for Peace movement has been so powerful that organizations in other cities and states have unexpectedly emulated the idea and implemented the movement in their area to create “Peace & Unity”. I was fortunate to untie with Quenton Bowman (Philadelphia native who worked with Nick Cannon & Incredibles marketing/promotion team. Quenton was a major key with the national expansion of Ballin’ for Peace. Annual events with the Philadelphia 76ers at Wells Fargo Center and the Nicetown Give Back Festival have been a great success for the program. This movement is a team effort and needs as much exposure as possible to encourage more people and organizations to take the Ballin’ for Peace approach of paying it forward and Being the “Blessing” that creates the “Blessing”.
6. Where do you see BFP 5 years from now and what is it going to take to get it there?
I see Ballin’ for Peace growing into it’s full potential in the 5 years. With the right sponsorships and backing for groundbreaking opportunities to come, “Sky is the limit” for the organization, like our “To The Top” Contest”.
7. Joining this type of organization can be considered a golden opportunity. Where can the public submit their interests in volunteering their time and what type of people are you looking towards for support?
People can submit their interest and request to volunteer through the
website. We are looking for people to get involved where they see fit (donations, sponsorship, music submission etc.).
8. Many don't see the grind behind the work, they see the success and perceive it to be overnight. The grind is definitely a process, give us a break down of what a daily blueprint for success looks like for you.
People see the success of Ballin’ for Peace through small highlighted segments but couldn’t fathom the actual overall creative process beginning to end. A daily breakdown of the blueprint to success starts and ends with prayer, with careful planning and networking in between.
9. Where can people connect with and learn more about Ballin For Peace?
For more information highlights, pictures and updated events check out
, #BallinForPeace @BallinForPeace. Facebook, Instagram,
Soundcloud, & Iphone App.
More on B.F.P
DJ Drama, Redman, Method Man, Dj Felli Fel, Wu-Tang Clan, Dj Vlad - Ballin' for Peace Mixtape Vol. 2 - https://youtu.be/nmJVlGhN-Gw
Wu-Tang, Redman, Treach, DJ Drama, D.L Hughley, Mista Fab - Intro - Ballin' for Peace Mixtape Vol.2 - https://youtu.be/6-LFitBWAeU
*Ballin’ for Peace Night With The Los Angeles Clippers @ Staples Center Highlights! (Mayors Awards) - https://youtu.be/TgXsHBV-oCQ
*Ballin' for Peace Night With The 76ers Highlights - Hero Among Us Awards & Certificates From The City Council (SLAM Magazine, NBC, NBA, 96.5) - https://youtu.be/B1KauV7pa-U